By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
While enrollees in National Health Insurance Bahamas will have a choice of primary care providers, over time those primary care providers will transition into a network of health professionals creating what is referred to as “Integrated Patient-Centred Care” according to the NHI policy paper.
The policy paper entitled: “Building a Heathier Bahamas” notes: “Enrollees in NHI Bahamas will have a choice in primary care providers. Ultimately, over time, primary care providers will transition and organise into local networks of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as is the contemporary model in jurisdictions around the world. This organisation of resources, skills and talents creates what is called “Integrated Patient-Centred Care”. NHI Bahamas will strive toward an end state where the patient is central to all health decisions and care models and be structured to enable the patient access to other levels of care. It will take time, however, to evolve towards this goal, working closely with the medical provider community. Integrated Patient-Centred Care will also present increased opportunities to healthcare professionals for collaboration, training and professional development.”
The initial service provision stage of NHI Bahamas will cover primary health care. General practitioners, family medicine doctors, internists, advanced practice nurses, pediatricians, and obstetricians-gynecologists are among the different types of healthcare physicians and healthcare professionals who provide primary care services.
“Primary care providers play a critical role in guiding patients through the healthcare system via referring them to specialists and maintaining relationships with nurses, labs and pharmacies. Primary care is often described as the gateway to the rest of the healthcare system and a foundation from which to build comprehensive Universal Health Coverage. Primary care providers will be the first point of contact with the healthcare system under NHI Bahamas. Referrals for secondary and tertiary care will be made through primary care providers. A high-functioning primary care system, over time, is expected to reduce the demand for hospital and other services,” the policy paper states.
It further notes that subsequent stages of NHI Bahamas will be extended to specialised care procedures, starting with those conditions most prevalent in The Bahamas.
“The National Prescription Drug Plan, as part of the approved listing of prescription drugs, will be improved and merged, over time, into NHI Bahamas. Once our healthcare system has adjusted to the initial implementation of Universal Health Coverage, full implementation of NHI Bahamas will include an increasingly comprehensive benefits package. Private health insurance or other means will be required to pay for non-covered services. Until the full rollout of NHI Bahamas, our network of public hospitals and clinics will continue to provide access to in-patient services and specialists, as required. During the initial stages of NHI Bahamas, coverage for work-related injuries will continue to be covered by the National Insurance Board through the existing system.”